Jewelery auctions in Geneva held on Tuesday and Wednesday cast a shadow over what has so far been a year marked by exceptionally strong demand and record or near-record prices for rare, high-quality diamonds from fancy color.
On November 8, The Fortune Pink, the largest pear-shaped Fancy Vivid pink diamond ever offered at auction, sold for approximately $28.5 million at Christie’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels auction. This was at the low end of its estimate of $25-35 million. The final price includes the buyer’s premium, the commission paid to the auction house. At the auction price, the actual price achieved at auction, it fell below its low estimate.
Although still a considerable amount, the rare Type IIa diamond with its solid VVS2 clarity grade, fell short of high expectations in what looked like a banner year for pink and blue diamonds.
This was followed the next day by a 5.53-carat cushion-cut Fancy Vivid blue diamond, which was the top lot in Sotheby’s Geneva Magnificent and Noble Jewels sale. It did not sell after the auction stalled at 10.4 million Swiss dollars ($10.7 million). His estimate was $11-15 million.
It is the first of eight blue diamonds offered through a partnership between diamond mining giant De Beers, which sourced and assembled the rough diamonds, and Diacore, which shaped and polished the rough into finished gemstones. The diamonds are being sold at Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels auctions in New York, Geneva and Hong Kong through spring 2023. The 5.53-carat blue diamond was the first to be offered.
The Geneva auctions followed two sales in August where a pink and a blue fetched exceptional prices.
The Williamson Pink Diamond, a flawless 11.15-carat fancy vivid pink diamond, fetched a remarkable $57.7 million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in October, smashing its high estimate of $21 million while setting a world record price per carat for a fancy pink diamond. It was the second highest price achieved for a piece of jewelry or gemstone sold at auction. The sale itself lasts 20 minutes (an eternity in the auction world) with multiple bidders vying for the gem. This gem had not only an exceptional size but an exceptional provenance. Yet the price and the number of bidders for such a diamond were unexpected. This left many predicting that The Fortune Pink would fare better.
Meanwhile, the De Beers Blue Diamond, the largest vivid blue diamond ever to come to auction, fetched over $57.4 million and around $3.8 million per carat, making it one of the highest prices ever achieved for a diamond at auction. Both prices for the 15.10-carat step-cut gem fell just short of world records for Fancy Vivid Blue diamonds. The total price was well above the gem’s estimate of over $48 million.
The De Beers Blue shared many of the same characteristics with the 5.53 carat Fancy Vivid Blue which failed to attract bidders.
The 5.53 carat blue diamond shared a similar story with the De Beers Blue. The rough for these diamonds have been discovered over the past two years at the Cullinan Mine, one of the very few mines in the world known to contain exceptional blue diamonds. While the De Beers Blue had exceptional clarity between the two, its auction performance exceeded expectations while the 5.53-carat blue diamond underperformed.
The unusual decision by Sotheby’s, De Beers and Diacore to sell all eight gems at multiple auctions within a year also raises questions about the performance of the remaining gems. A diamond trader described it as “uncharted” territory.
Next is the Golden Canary, a deep brownish yellow diamond of 303.10 carats. It is one of the largest polished diamonds in the world and the largest flawless or internally flawless diamond ever graded by the Gemological Institute of America. This will be the top lot in the Sotheby’s New York Magnificent Jewels sale on December 7. It’s estimated at $15 million and it’s being offered without reserve, with bidding starting at just $1.
However, expect another high quality fancy color diamond to come up for auction before the end of the year.